Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lenny's Drive-in Pizza-Burger Ad – June 8, 1957

I've done a few posts about Lenny's Drive-in (here and here), which opened in July 1956. It was located right next door to the Airport Tavern (now Mutt & Jeff's) on Oberlin Avenue.

Well, here's another ad for Lenny's from about a year after the drive-in opened. The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on June 8, 1957 and featured a new nationally franchised menu offering, the Pizza-Burger.

As much as I like advertising mascots, I'm not a fan of the freakish mascot – although he is rather memorable. (I can see Jimmy Durante as their national spokesman.)

So what was the story behind the Pizza-Burger? Here's an article (courtesy of from the April 1957 issue of Fast Food that explains the whole story.


"Do I Smell Pizza Burgers?"
by Marie Berube
Reprinted from Fast Food August 1957
Combine the zesty tang of a pizza with the ageless appeal of a hamburger and you've got the PIZZA-BURGER sandwich – newest fast food menu sensation!
For verification, just ask two Wisconsin men who've been building profits for quick-service operators across the country by franchising their pizza-burger rights.
The two partners, Paul de-Angelis and Hugh McGrorty, of Muskego, Wis., came up with the "different" sandwich a few years ago as the answer in their search for something really new to add to their menu at the Muskego Drive-In.
The felt, and have proven, however, that their spicy sandwich not only appeals to customers in the Muskego area -- but also draws heavy plaudits from patrons of rapid-service food establishments in every state of the nation.
The customer-building sandwich, made of seasoned ground beef and pork garnished with a sauce, cheese and chopped onion is grilled like a hamburger and served on a toasted bun.
Simplicity and speed of the pizza-burger is best verified by the many successful franchisers – people like Richard Reimer, co-owner with his parents of the Wagon Wheel Drive-In in Elgin, Illinois, who became a pizza-burger operator in 1955.
About once a week Reimer puts through his meat grinder 80 lbs. of lean pork butt and beef, adds the pizza-burger special blend of seasonings and spices -- then regrinds the mixture through a finer knife. Molded into hamburger patties, the meat is then packed into cartons and placed in the freezer.
The basic patty recipe is for 13 lbs. of meat, to be made up as needed rather than frozen, but Reimer finds that making up a week's supply and freezing it assists in speedy service -- and the meat loses nothing in flavor by being frozen, he states.
Preparation time for Reimer is about three and a half hours. Result: about 560 or his normal week's supply of patties for pizza-burgers -- for which he has exclusive rights in a guaranteed Elgin territory.
At the time of order, all Reimer does is grill a patty on one side, flip it over, top it with a special formula sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped onion and sliced American cheese, heat through until done --pop onto toasted roll and serve.
"Secret" of the pizza-burger's zesty flavor is the method with which the seasonings are combined with the meat and the sauce. The franchise, Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc. supplies the seasonings in the right proportions in packets -- Reimer need only mix in as per instructions.
Basis for the sauce is a No. 10 can of tomato puree, the prescribed seasonings, cooking oil and water. A gallon of sauce takes only a couple of minutes to mix and is enough for about 150 sandwiches. Total cost of the sandwich and sauce is about 12 cents. Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc., suggests a 35 cent retail price.
Today's restaurant operation can become acquainted with the pizza-burger franchise system through a unique $10 option offer employed by deAngelis and McGrorty.
Under this plan, the restaurateur sends in $10 to Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc., and is assured a three week test option on a protected territory. For this nominal sum he receives seasoning mixes for about $42 worth of pizza-burgers, recipes, back-bar signs, hats, table tents, etc.
At the conclusion of the option period, the operator can decide to not carry the pizza-burger. In this instance he forfeits the $10 and removes all evidence of the pizza-burger name -- fully protected by registered trademark-- from his menus and premises.
Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc., reports, however, that the above option plan of action is not taken by 80% of the prospective franchisers. With the reception customers are giving the new sandwich treat and the profit picture of pizza-burgers, deAngelis and McGrorty say that all most operators want to do is more pizza-burger business!
In this common case, the quick service operator's $10 is applied toward the initial franchise fee, this ranges from $25 to $100 based on the population area.
In addition to the initial fee there is a small annual fee; as an example, the initial fee may be $45, the annual $30.
Accepting a protected territory, the restaurant then need only sign an agreement with Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc., stating that he will make the meat mixture and the accessory sauce according to specific direction and that he will purchase his seasoning and recipe mixture from Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc.
That's all there is to any operator becoming a franchised purveyor in an area protected for the duration of the franchise which is renewable each year.
With more and more operators climbing on the pizza-burger profit bandwagon, McGrorty and deAngelis devote all their time to the franchise end of their business and to production of the seasonings.
Boasting no sales force, Pizza-Burger Systems, Inc., lines up new franchises entirely through the mail. New prospects are the result of trade advertising and publicity, or word of mouth recommendations from established franchisers like Richard Reimer and his Wagon Wheel Drive-In.
McGrorty and deAngelis also have, in addition to the seasonings available for purchase such promotional material as match books, sandwich bags, hats, napkins, table tents, decals and menu clip-ons. All of these, which are optional purchases by the operator, feature a pert, prominent-nosed "Pizza Burger Boy" insignia, with the slogan "Do I Smell Pizza-Burgers?"
The yearly fee entitles the franchise to promotional streamers, back-bar signs and other such material, mailed almost every month. Suggested advertising ideas and spot radio advertisements are also covered by this small tariff.
A hybrid item born of the continuing demands for the different, the tasty and the quick in the speedy service food field, the pizza-burger is rapidly fulfilling the destiny of its name -- to rank with the pizza and the hamburger in consumer popularity. And growing right along with it are the dollar profits of the franchised operators.

Incredibly, Pizza-Burger System, Inc. is still around. Click here to visit their website!
And to see some great photos of a diner in Granite City, Illinois that featured the Pizza-Burger, click here to visit the GraniteCity Gossip website.


dbhewitt63 said...

Granite City's Pizza Burger looks like it has a pat of butter instead of a slice of cheese!

Dan Brady said...

You're right! It looks more like a mini Velveeta-Burger.